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Archive for April, 2021

 


 

GC Myers- Hiding in Plain Sight

“Hiding in Plain Sight”- Bid for it on the SPCA Fundraiser



What makes a hero? Courage, strength, morality, withstanding adversity? Are these the traits that truly show and create a hero? Is the light truly the source of darkness or vice versa? Is the soul a source of hope or despair? Who are these so called heroes and where do they come from? Are their origins in obscurity or in plain sight?

– Fyodor Dostoevsky



I want to let everyone out there know that the painting above, Hiding in Plain Sight, is currently part of the online auction to benefit our local Chemung County SPCA. This painting is 10″ by 14″ on paper which is matted in a 16″ by 20″ frame. It is valued at $1500 and the current high bid is $1050. It is Auction Item #14.

This virtual fundraising event which takes place tomorrow, Saturday, May 1, runs from 4-7 PM on Facebook Live with the auction for all items ending at 7 PM. It also has a variety of entertaining musical performances though out the event. You can check out or bid on this painting or any of the many donated items by  clicking on this link for its Facebook page, SPCA Virtual Facebook Fundraiser and scrolling down through the items. As I said, this painting is Auction Item #14.

I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to help out a worthy organization, our SPCA, and perhaps take home an original painting.

For me, this painting has message that aligns well with what Dostoevsky questions above. What makes a hero? What is beauty? What are we seeking? Is it beyond us or is it in plain sight?

My guess is that all that we seek and all that we are or need is always right before us, in plain sight.

So, come out of the shadows and stake your claim to heroism by helping the SPCA continue to help out the animals here in Chemung County. Like so many other things, those in need are often in plain sight, waiting for a helping hand.

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gc-myers-memory-of-night-sm



The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

-Elie Wiesel



I am super busy working on my upcoming Principle Gallery show this morning but thought that I’d share a post that I like to replay every few years. It meshes well with yesterday’s post about how each of us deserve to have our voice heard and our existence acknowledged.



I’ve been sitting here for quite some time now, staring at the quote above from Elie Wiesel, the late Nobel Laureate and peace activist. I had planned on writing about how my work evolved as a response to the indifference of others but now, looking at those words and putting them into the context of Wiesel’s experience, I feel a bit foolish. Wiesel, who had survived the Holocaust and crusaded so that it might never happen again, was eyewitness to indifference on a grand scale, from those who were complicit or those who did not raise their voices in protest even though they knew what was happening to the personal indifference shown by his Nazi guards, as they turned a blind eye to the suffering and inhumanity directly before them on a daily basis, treating their innocent captives as though they were subhuman, nothing at all in their eyes.

The indifference of which he speaks is that which looks past you without any regard for your humanity. Or your mere existence, for that matter. It is this failure to engage, this failure to allow our empathy to take hold and guide us, that grants permission for the great suffering that takes place throughout our world.

So you can see where writing about showing a picture as a symbolic battle against indifference might seem a bit trivial. It certainly does to me. But I do see in it a microcosm of the wider implications. We all want our humanity, our existence, recognized and for me this was a small way of raising my voice to be heard.

When I first started showing my work I was coming off of a period where I was at my lowest point for quite some time. I felt absolutely voiceless and barely visible in the world, dispossessed in many ways. In art I found a way to finally express an inner voice, my real humanity, that others could see and feel a reaction. So when my first opportunity to display my work came, at the West End Gallery in 1995, I went to the show with great trepidation.

For some, it was just a show of some nice paintings by some nice folks. For me, it was a test of my existence.

It was interesting as I stood off to the side, watching as people walked about the space. It was elating when someone stopped and looked at my small pieces. But that feeling of momentary glee was overwhelmed by the indifference shown by those who walked by with barely a glance, if that. It was as though my work wasn’t even there.

Those moments crushed me. I would have rather they had stopped and spit at my work on the wall than merely walk by dismissively. That, at least, would have made me feel heard.

Don’t get me wrong here. Some people walking by a painting that doesn’t move them with barely a glance are not Nazis nor are they bad folks in any way. I held no ill will toward them, even at that moment. I knew that I was the one who had placed so much importance on this moment, not them. They had no idea that they were playing part to an existential crisis. Now, I am even a bit grateful for their indifference that night because it made me vow that I would paint bolder, that I would make my voice be heard. Without that indifference I might have settled and not continued forward on my path.

But in this case, I knew that it was up to me to overcome their indifference.

Again, please excuse my use of Mr. Wiesel’s quote here. My little anecdote has little to do with the experience of those who suffered at the hands of evil people who were enabled by the indifference of those who might have stopped them. The point is that we all want to be heard, to be recognized on the most basic level for our own existence, our own individual selves. But too often, we all show indifference that takes that away from others, including those that we love. We all need to listen and hear, to look and see, to express our empathy with those we encounter.

We need to care.

Maybe in that small ways the greater effects of indifference of which Elie Wiesel spoke can be somehow avoided.

We can hope.



The painting at the top is a new piece [at the time this was first written] that I call Memory of Night, inspired by Wiesel’s memorable book documenting his Holocaust experience, Night.

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GC Myers-The Fulfillment sm

“The Fulfillment”- Now at the West End Gallery



Take your hand
and place your hand
some place
upon your body.
And listen
to the community of madness
that
you are.

How To Be Alone, Pádraig Ó Tuama



I am up and alone in the studio at 4:30 this morning, eager to get a brush in my hand. It might sound crazy but that doesn’t matter to me right now. I am excited about the work for my Principle Gallery show in June that I am working on and feel a compulsion to keep at it out of the fear that this feeling will soon pass.

But for as excited as I am still about the new work, I am not ready to show a lot of it quite yet. Something makes me want to hold most of it back for a bit, as though showing too much of it will somehow diminish the impact of it as a whole. Actually, the gallery hasn’t even seen a lot of this work, probably for that same reason.

I’ve spent more time already from this early morning than I had wanted before I get to work so I will get to the point of this post. It’s the author’s reading and animation of a piece, How To Belong Be Alone, from Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama. It’s a wonderful short poem that speaks to the need to belong which is similar to that driving need to have my voice heard that brought me to painting.

Some days I find myself questioning whether that need to have my voice heard is a necessity or a product of ego. I mean, here I sit writing about my paintings. Isn’t that an act of ego?

Part of me says that it is. But part of me rejects that idea. After all, we all need to know that our voices are heard, that our existence matters, that we belong in this world. Maybe if I believed that my voice or my work deserved to be heard and appreciated above all others or that it mattered more than that of anyone else, maybe then it would be an act of ego.

But I don’t believe that. We all deserve to let the world hear the voice of our unique selves. Each is as valid and valuable as the next.

I think this poem speaks well to this point.

… listen to the community of madness that you are.

Okay, got to get to work. before I burst. Take a look please.



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9912238 Up and Up small



There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher. What we can’t understand we call nonsense. What we can’t read we call gibberish.

–Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor



I tend to agree with the snippet above from author Chuck Palahniuk’s novel.

Everything is built upon pattern. Who we are and how we behave. History. Science. Music and art. It is all dictated by patterns.

Most of us don’t dwell too long on identifying patterns in the world around us and some of us will even refuse to acknowledge the predominance of pattern in the world, believing everything is random and chaotic. I suppose that in itself is part of a pattern, a larger one that is so encompassing that we can’t see it from our vantage point within it.

Just speculating there, of course.

I know that I am always looking for pattern, even when I’m not really looking. I call it pattern, rhythm, flow, sense of rightness and other terms, without knowing why I am drawn to this concept. It just attracts me in that it is so much part of everything that there must surely be significance.

This search for pattern often shows up in my work, especially in those with unusual dimensions like the painting shown on the left, titled Up and Up. The width of its picture plane is very restrictive, forcing all the elements within it to be condensed so that it maintains a semblance of coherence for the viewer. For these paintings, it results in patterns all their own. Patterns that often hold the visual appeal of the whole painting.

For example, Up and Up has a pattern that reminds me of ladder rungs, with each new layer in the landscape lifting you higher. I see it both as a landscape and as a pattern, a sort of DNA-like structure or armature on which this world is built.

Whatever it is, it holds my eye and makes me keep searching for something in it.



This post ran several years ago but has been adapted for the piece shown here, Up and Up, which will be part of my upcoming solo show, Between Here and There, opening June 4, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

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GC Myers Early Work 1994-Winter Park



From my seat here, I am looking across the studio at a canvas on the easel. It was nearly finished when yesterday’s painting session came to an end. It was just at that point where it was making the vital transformation into something more than just paint smeared on a surface. The most exciting and gratifying part of the process for me.

Thoughts of this piece  haunted me all last night and were there waiting for me this morning. I was envisioning where my next move on the canvas would come and how it would blossom after that.

I found myself eager to move quickly through the woods and over to the studio.

Almost compelled, as though I had no choice in the matter. That painting was demanding my presence in its service, like I was serving some sort of strange psychic bondage to it. As though it was something that needed to released for my own wellbeing, and the sooner it was done, the better.

The difference, of course, that this is a voluntary thing, a welcomed binding to service. I don’t feel restrained by this.

Instead, I feel freed by the ability to follow this impulse.

It’s a hard thing to describe. And to be frank, I don’t have the time this morning to try to do so any further. That painting is waiting to be released out into the world from its own bondage. Got to go set it free.

Here’s a fitting song, I Feel Free from Cream from many moons ago, back in 1966. It has a real atmospheric, cinematic aspect to it. The painting at the top has no relevance here at all. It’s just an early piece from around 1994 that I call Winter Park. I include it this morning just because it pleases me and I am free to do this.

Enjoy.



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GC Myers- Shared Joy sm



This is the true joy in life: the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

-George Bernard Shaw



The painting above is a new piece from my June show at the Principle Gallery. It’s a 12″ by 12″ canvas that feature my Baucis and Philemon inspired trees. There’s a brightness to it that gives me a true feeling of joy which most likely led to its title, Shared Joy. It reminded me of a blogpost from back in 2016 where I was describing another piece that brought up similar feelings. I thought I would share it today along with this Sunday Morning music which is a jazzy version of On the Sunny Side of the Street from Esperanza Spalding. It’s from a 2015 White House performance and it showcases her virtuosity on the double bass. Nice version with a lot of joy in it.

Here’s the blogpost from 2016 followed by On the Sunny Side of the Street. Enjoy.



After describing a painting that I found joyfully appealing, I continued:  There was just a feeling of realized joy and happiness throughout it, the kind that Shaw described above in his play Man and Superman.

I think the feeling he describes must be one of the greatest joy in this world: to find a purpose into which you can fully throw your whole being for all of your time on this planet.

A purpose that gives you a place to stand and rise above the selfishness and pettiness of those, including yourself, who would drag you down.

A purpose that allows you to tap into some greater force in order to gain energy for your toils.

A purpose that lets you deny the cynicism that sometimes shows up in abundance in this world.

A purpose that serves you endless joy in what seem to be empty moments.

A purpose that even finds the joy in tears.

I think there is a purpose for each of us. Finding it is not always a simple matter and some of us will never find the one purpose that is truly our own. We may not be willing to give enough of ourselves to something that is beyond our own needs and desires. We might still find some joy in our life but it will no doubt be short lived.

For me, it has been painting. At first, I found this surprising because I often viewed it as being selfish in nature. It was my perspectives. My emotions. It was even called self-expression.

But I found that there is purpose in it and that this came from having others find comfort and happiness in their reactions to my expression.

Their joy fed my joy, even more than my own satisfaction and joy from the work.

But there are days when I still find myself losing sight of this purpose, when it is a struggle both in the studio and in the outer world and I feel drawn back down to less positive feelings. But I will be somehow reminded of that purpose and that joyful feeling returns.

That happened the other day. A gallery owner called and told me of a person who had bought a painting of mine that they had desired for quite a long time. In fact, this person had come into the gallery for this painting and it was gone, having been returned to me. I sent the piece back to the gallery and when the person returned to get it, they started crying in joy. I can’t even express how this makes me feel outside of saying again that their joy fed my joy, their tears became my tears.

Those moments make my time alone in the studio seem more special and filled with purpose. They make me that joyous one, if only for a while.

And that is good enough for me…

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Diebenkorn Ocean Park 67

Richard Diebenkorn- Ocean Park #67



When I am halfway there with a painting, it can occasionally be thrilling… But it happens very rarely; usually it’s agony… I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. It’s the invisible enemy.

–Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993)



I am in the middle of painting and preparing work for my upcoming shows, the first being my annual solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria in June. This is my 22nd show there so there is a definite pattern of behaviors and responses that occur during this process of putting together a show.

Some are quite good, resulting in me feeling a sense of purpose or worth. Then there are others that have me wondering why I am doing this or if I am good enough. It’s a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, sometimes both taking place within hours of each other.

Sometimes a new painting will elicit both elation and doubt. I sometimes finish a piece being totally enamored of its effect on me then begin to doubt my own feeling. Is the appeal I feel real and from the piece itself? Or is it something else? Does my own bias blind me to its flaws?

I had that happen yesterday as I finished a piece that had me very satisfied at its completion. I just loved it, thought that it captured what I felt and needed to say in it. And did so in a bold way. But within hours, my doubts dispensed with all good feelings. I felt like maybe I was seeing things in it that would not be visible to others.

I ended the day not sure what to think of it and not trusting any reaction I felt.

The words from the late painter Richard Diebenkorn above ring very true for me at times like this. There is a constant struggle in the process for me during this time of my painting year. I am up one minute and down the next. At least, I know and accept this so I don’t mistake it for something else, like a psychotic episode.

There might even be something to be gained from this struggle. Maybe it keeps down that form of blind confidence that ultimately stifles the work’s growth.

Conversely, maybe the doubt prohibits growth?

I don’t know and don’t know that I ever will. But I continue the struggle, day in and day out. And cherish the highs and persist through agony of the lows.

It’s all I know how to do.

Time to get on the rollercoaster.

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GC Myers 2021 Work a sm



Nothing whets the intelligence more than a passionate suspicion, nothing develops all the faculties of an immature mind more than a trail running away into the dark.

― Stefan Zweig, The Burning Secret



The new painting above is part of my June solo show, Between Here and There, at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. Its title, The Burning Secret, is borrowed from a Stefan Zweig short story. The Austrian Zweig (1881-1942) was a giant of literature in the 1920s and 30’s, his books among the biggest best-sellers and most translated of the time. But he has not come forward in history with the same impact as some of his contemporaries such as Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann, though there was new interest in his work after director Wes Anderson made Zweig’s The Grand Budapest Hotel into a wonderful film.

I am not going to get into Zweig here but the short excerpt form the story at the top seemed to fit so well with what I was seeing in this new painting. The forest of Red Trees has a feeling of danger and menace yet also beckons. I know that, as one possessed of an immature mind despite my quickly advancing age, that the danger possessed in mystery is an attractive thing for this unnurtured sort of mind.

You know you stay out of that place but there is something in there that needs to be found, some mystery to be exposed.

The fractured sky above appears to shed light and clues and the house seems to almost stare into the dark of the forest. Though it is apparently night the light on the fields is surreally mysterious and shadowy.

Yet, even with its evident potential for peril, there is something in this that tells me that the core of this mystery, the secret waiting to be uncovered, is not to be feared. The fear only comes in not knowing which allows the immature mind to run wild.

The more mature part of the mind feels that behind the mystery there may be answers. Perhaps even answers to the larger questions that have plagued one’s mind.

It makes me want to follow that path, that trail running away into the dark.

Who knows what lies beyond?



The Burning Secret is 13″ by 19″ on paper and is matted and framed in an 18″ by 24″ frame. It is included in my solo show, Between Here and There, which opens June 4, 2021 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

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Georgia O'Keeffe- Blue and Green Music



Lots to do this morning so I am just going to share a favorite painting from Georgia O’Keeffe and a piece of music whose composition was influenced by that same painting.

The painting is Blue and Green Music which was painted by O’Keeffe during her years in New York, somewhere around 1920. It is her attempt at translating music into visual form. I think it works on that level but even without knowing that this was her aim, I would be enthralled by this piece. The use of contrasts of colors, light and dark, and hard and soft edges along with the rhythmic curl of the bright organic form that occupies the center of the picture makes this an absolute feast for the eyes.

Or, maybe I should say, a symphony for the eyes.

I know that it sets off all sorts of sparks in me.

The piece of music is titled, of course, Blue and Green Music, and is a composition from the contemporary composer Samuel Hazo. I believe this piece is from somewhere around 2010 or 11. From the number of videos of this piece on YouTube, I would guess this has become a popular piece for high school and college concert bands and orchestras.

It’s a lovely piece of music. Taking a few minutes to listen while pondering Georgia O’Keeffe’s brilliant creation is not a bad way to kick off the morning.



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The Arc

Arc



I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.

-Theodore Parker, 1853 Sermon



The excerpt above from Unitarian minister Theodore Parker in the Abolitionist years before the American Civil War was the source for a popular quote from another famed minister. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. later condensed Parker’s words into a quote that has become almost an anthem in recent times–  The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Yesterday provided some small proof of this moral arc bending toward justice. I was holding my breath as the judge in the George Floyd murder case rendered the jury’s verdict. When he announced that the officer was guilty of all three counts, I felt a great sense of relief overtake my body. It was not a moment of jubilation or joy. This may ha been a pivotal moment in the way in which this country moves forward and had the verdict went the other way, we might be looking at a much different scenario today.

Feeling that justice was finally served in some way, I immediately thought of King’s words. However, it kind of nagged at me because I knew that this was not some sort of preordained result, not some sort of karmic return that was meant to occur.

No, it was the result of an outcry and vigilance. Had it not been for the courage of a seventeen year old young lady with an IPhone camera who was willing to document the atrocity she was witnessing, if not for throngs willing to take to the streets during the height of a deadly pandemic, if not for police officers who could no longer turn a blind eye to the criminal behavior of some of their brothers in blue, the moral arc might not yet be bending. 

Nothing, especially justice, is preordained. Change, including the bending of the moral arc of the universe, is the result of actions taken. Without the will and the courage to continue to attempt to bend that arc, it will never head completely toward justice.

While I love the belief of Dr. King’s words, I think I prefer Parker’s longer message where he adds that he can divine by conscience, meaning, I believe, that he knew that the will and effort to bend that arc was a critical necessity but that it was at hand.

There is much work to be done. It is not a time for celebration. Even my sense of relief should be avoided because for every action there is a reaction.

Those hate-filled folks who have a different view of where justice rests on the moral arc of the universe are not going away any time soon. They will continue to try to warp the arc toward their own vision, seeming to believe that denying rights and dignity to others somehow elevates their own. 

In fact, diminishing the rights of any one of us diminishes the rights of us all.

So, let’s stay watchful, responsive and brave, folks, okay? It’s up to us alone–you and me and all our friends– to bend that arc towards a form of justice that blindly and equally serves each and every one of us.

 

 

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